Cheng Li

Cheng Li

Assistant Professor


CSRB 1535, Climate & Space Research Building
University of Michigan
2455 Hayward Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2143



Primary Website


  • California Institute of Technology, 2011 – 2017, Ph.D. Planetary Science
  • Peking University, 2007 – 2011, B.S. Atmospheric Science

Research Interests

My research topics focus on the exploration of planets inside and outside of our solar system. I have been involved in NASA’s Cassini Mission to Saturn and the Juno Mission to Jupiter. I use numerical models, ground-based telescopes, and data collected from space missions to further our understanding of the physical properties of planets. Specifically, I’m interested in fluid motions, including the atmosphere, ocean, and convection powered by the internal heat of a planet. Planets provide unique natural laboratories that are unattainable on Earth. By studying the planets, we learn the fundamental physics, the past, and the future of the home we live on.



  • University of California, Berkeley, 2019 – 2020, 51 Pegasi b Postdoc Fellow
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 2017 – 2019, NASA Postdoc Program Fellow


  • 51 Pegasi b Fellowship, Heising-Simons Foundation (2019)
  • NASA Postdoc Program Fellowship (2016)
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (2015)


[9] Li, Cheng, A. Ingersoll, A. Klipfel, H. Brettle, Modeling the Stability of Polygonal Patterns of Vortices at the Poles of Jupiter as Revealed by the Juno Spacecraft, PNASaccepted (2020)

[8] Li, Cheng, A. Ingersoll, S. Bolton, S. Levin, M. Janssen, S. Atreya, J. Lunine, P. Steffes, S. Brown, T. Guillot, M. Allison, J. Arballo, A. Bellotti, V. Adumitroaie, S. Gulkis, A. Hodges, L. Li, S. Misra, G. Orton, F. Oyafuso, D. Santos-Costa, H. Waite, Z. Zhang, The water abundance in Jupiter’s equatorial zone, Nature Astronomy, doi::10.1038/s41550-020-1009-3 (2020)

[7] Li, Cheng, X. Chen. Simulating Non-hydrostatic Atmospheres on Planets (SNAP): formulation, validation, and application to the Jovian atmosphere, ApJS240,2  (2018)

[6] Li, Cheng, T. Le, X. Zhang, Y. Yung, 2018. A High-performance Atmospheric Radiation Package: with applications to the radiative energy budgets of giant planets, JQSRT, 217,353-362 (2018)

[5] Li, Cheng, A. Ingersoll, F. Oyafuso. Moist adiabats with multiple condensing species: A new theory with application to giant planet atmospheresJAS, 75(4),1063-1072 (2018)

[4] Li, Cheng, A.P. Ingersoll, M.A. Janssen, S.M. Levin, S.T. Bolton, V. Adumitroaie, M.D. Allison, J. Arballo, A.A. Bellotti, S.T. Brown, S. Ewald, L. Jewell, S. Misra, G.S. Orton, F.A. Oyafuso, P.G. Steffes, R. Williamson. The distribution of ammonia on Jupiter from inversion of Juno Microwave Radiometer data. GRL44(11) (2017)

[3] Li, Cheng, A. Ingersoll. Moist convection in hydrogen atmospheres and the frequency of Saturn’s giant storms, Nature Geoscience8, 398-403 (2015)

[2] Li, Cheng, X. Zhang, P. Gao, Y. Yung. Vertical distribution of C3-hydrocarbons in the stratosphere of Titan, ApJL803, L19 (2015)

[1] Li, Cheng, X. Zhang, J. Kammer, M. Liang, R. Shia, Y. Yung. A non-monotonic eddy diffusivity profile of Titan’s atmosphere revealed by Cassini observations. PSS, 104, Part A(0), 48-58 (2014)